16 Dec

Weekly Riding Plan Example: Day 1

I have written a lot relating to planning your rides. It occurred to me that maybe it would help if I gave you an example of the sort of things that I did when planning my rides. I tried to strategically incorporate things to improve my riding as well as my horse’s training.

What Kind of Horse Is This For?

This plan is based on your average horse who is middle-aged, not a horse that would be considered green. It’s for a horse that is well broke but learning the finer things in life, improving self-carriage, balance, and rhythm. Maybe a horse that is starting to train for a specific discipline.

The weekly plan that you make for your horse depends on many factors including your riding level, whether or not you have a trainer giving you input, as well as your horse’s age and experience level. If you need help coming up with a plan, ask someone. I think you will find the input well worth it.

Our Day 1 Goals

*Go forward *Respond to our aids *Work on our own seat by practicing sitting, two-point, and posting *Pick up both canter leads *Relaxed at the end of the ride. Long low stretchy circles.

Day 1

We are assuming that your horse was not ridden on the weekend, so this is a 5-day riding plan taking into account the two days off beforehand.

Start Every Day the Same

We start out with walking on a loose contact, trying to feel what sort of mood they are in, and how responsive they are. Remember, you should do this every day. Every day your horse could be in a different mood and respond a little differently. So the first thing that you do is get to feel what you have to work with that day.

I would spend about 10 minutes walking and changing direction, trying to get them to be responsive to my leg as far as moving forward when I ask. I say to change direction often because we also want to make sure they are moving off our leg left to right when we try to push them over.

Day 1 Plan

Monday’s goal is to get them back in the frame of mind to work after the weekend off. I explained what to do when you first get on each day above.

The second goal for Monday is to make sure the horse is responsive to your aids. Be very aware of if she is bending, listening to half-halts, staying in front of the leg, etc.. We have to reestablish these things each day when we get on our horse. On day one we are going to be super focused on this so that as the week progresses we won’t have to spend as much time on it each day before we can get on to more difficult things or new skills.

The next thing we would be to start and pick up our contact, trying to keep the horse walking forward into the contact, using their hind end and not slow down. Once they are at least accepting the contact, not moving their head or leaning on the bit, go ahead and push them into the trot.

Next, in the trot, we start with just focusing on rhythm. We ride with a nice steady rein contact, straight line, elbow, hand, bit. We are focusing on a forward rhythm before anything else. Once we have the rhythm we can begin to start to ask them to go into a frame, assuming they know how to, so we are going to insist that they go into a frame and then reward them when they do. If this was a new skill, we would not be working on it on the first day.

At the same time as working on the trot rhythm and changes of direction, I want you to work on transitioning from sitting, to two points, to posting, taking note if the rhythm is changing as you change. If they slow and speed up depending on what you are doing, that tells you that your lower leg is not staying in position. Practice this for about 10 or 15 minutes.

When you canter, canter the good direction first. Then work in the hard direction and do more transitions in the hard direction than actual cantering. Positioning them correctly for the transition is what helps them get the correct lead, so practicing the transitions is the most important thing. Go back to the good direction a few more times and then go back to trot.

If your horse doesn’t favor one side, do your cantering on figure eight with a simple lead change (trot stride) in the center. Your goal is for your horse to transition smoothly up into a canter, then promptly down to trot when you ask, then back into a canter without running in the trot.

Now that you have cantered and has more push from behind, you should be able to more easily get them into a frame. We are going to take advantage of this and ride some figures. Figure eight’s, serpentines, straight lines, and just get some great forward round trot work.

Next, we are going to let them do some long and low at the trot. As they keep trotting forward, we are going to gradually let her stretch their head down. We are going to keep giving them more rein as long as they are stretching down and staying in the forward tempo.

Do the stretchy trot in both directions. When they feel long, low and relaxed, let them walk. Tell them how great they are and make a big deal over it! That is a good first day of a five-day set.

When You Are Cooling Out or Untacking

Did you meet your Day 1 Goals?

*Go forward *Respond to our aids *Work on our own seat by practicing sitting, two-point, and posting *Pick up both canter leads *Relaxed at the end of the ride. Long low stretchy circles.

Hopefully, we successfully met our Day 1 Goals. It should have been an easy, forward-thinking, basic ride. You re-established the basics and got horse and rider to start the week speaking the same language!

Stay tuned for day 2.

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